The year 1994.

Vidya swiftly progressed to the Numbakkam station. Her surefootedness telling, she knew her journey well. Barely near the station, a frazzled torso with a heavy black blanket, of a wavering gait collided from behind, and winded out of sight.

 ‘Hey hey watch out!’ Vidya hollered after the person. She quickly ensured her purse was safe and moved on.

 It was a second-class ticket, and the dirt and smell of sweaty co-passengers swarmed in at each station.

She noticed someone had crawled under the seats. Two women lay on the first tier, their lower dress dangling down like lowered curtains. An hour passed. One of those women, got down to wake up the one crawled under the seat. She shook her legs first gently, then frantically.

The woman under the seat was lying in a pool of blood. She was dead. Vidya’s eyes followed the heavy black blanket that shrouded the dead body.

Soon, the compartment burst out, by the squeals of a crying child. This newborn was lying into its umbilical cord under the seat.

Year 2019.

“As a civil services topper today, I dedicate my medallion to Ms. Vidya Krishna, the woman who has made me everything. Vidya had tried her best, but none of the women traveling with my biological mother was willing to keep me. I was open to adoption. Papa too welcomed me home. Herself a newlywed woman, from a very conservative family she raised me almost single handedly. A true ‘Braveheart’ … My mother!”

Amidst loud applauses, women’s topper Snigdha Krishna went over to a slightly woman wearing a string of white jasmine into her bun and placed the shining medallion around her neck.


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